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Many reasons Placid police don’t need a dog

December 21, 2010
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Lake Placid police and the Connecting Youth and Communities Coalition have wasted their time in trying to use federal grant funding to buy a drug-sniffing dog for the village PD.

Saranac Lake police decommissioned its K-9 unit 10 years ago because it was too expensive to keep feeding, boarding and training the dog, training the officer assigned to it, maintaining a separate vehicle just for the K-9 unit and not being able to use that officer as much as they liked for regular duty because much of his time was taken up with the dog. Ask Howard Riley, Saranac Lake's village manager at the time; it just wasn't worth the expense, he says. Saranac Lake police hardly used their German shepherd. It was more a mascot than a working dog, not all that different from Smokey down at the firehouse.

The $20,000 the CYC would put toward the K-9 unit would not go far toward paying for it, and village taxpayers would start picking up the bills from there. CYC board President Mary Dietrich says the grant would fund the program entirely for five years, but we're skeptical of that. Even if she's right, what's the point of bringing it in for just five years? All the marijuana won't be sniffed out by then.

The village board was absolutely right to give this proposal a stern reception.

And here's the kicker: The state police just got a new K-9 unit in Ray Brook two weeks ago. If Lake Placid schools have the scary, escalating drug problem the CYC and police warned the village of last week, help just arrived.

If they need backup, state police also have K-9s in Lewis, Malone and Clinton County, each less than an hour's drive away from Lake Placid.

How often do these dogs get used, anyway? Not very, we bet. So if anyone has a drug-sniffing, lost-person-seeking or kid-greeting task for a professional doggie detective, call Troop B at 518-897-2000.

It seems like our area already has too many K-9s. Perhaps that's something Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo will consider as he tries to lead New York out of the deficit wilderness.

If anyone has K-9s, it should be state police; they can take them all over the state, for a search-and-rescue here or a school locker search there. But police of a village of 2,750 people? No way.

The CYC and Lake Placid police should be ashamed for not only wasting time but wasting people's tax dollars on something this useless. Further, they did so behind the back of the village board for more than nine months; they applied for this grant in March and never bothered to ask the people who manage village finances about it. And CYC Coordinator Angel Marvin used to work for the village; she, at least, should have known better.

Ms. Dietrich said she was "dumbfounded" that the village board wasn't excited to get a dog. Those who see government grants as "free money" might be puzzled, but those who take public funds more seriously should not be.



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